Actual TV network buys stake in satirical news network (Univision invests in The Onion/AV Club/Clickhole to bolster Fusion)

¿Cómo se dice “The Onion” en Español?

Univision Communications Inc., the leading media voice for Hispanics in the United States, has purchased a minority stake in Onion Inc., the digital comedy, satire and entertainment brand whose most popular platforms are The A.V. Club, Clickhole, and The Onion.

Terms of the investment were not disclosed, although a source familiar with the deal told The New York Times that Univision had invested in 40 percent of The Onion’s companies with a valuation of $200 million.

In other words, an actual mainstream news and entertainment broadcaster bought into a fake one and considered it a more worthy investment than most old-school legacy print companies. As Bloomberg noted, Univision paid for The Onion twice what Amazon founder Jeff Bezos paid three years ago for The Washington Post. Go figure.

And a day after the deal went public, Univision’s programming president resigned as part of a shakeup there.

What does it all mean?

Univision’s statement about the investment:

The Onion is a complementary extension of UCI’s Spanish- and English-language digital portfolio, broadening the Company’s multicultural, digital footprint and its reach with a highly coveted millennial audience. With more than 25 million engaged monthly uniques on Onion Inc.’s platform, UCI will expand its overall digital presence in multicultural, millennial focused content with this transaction.

While Onion Inc. will operate independently, maintaining the integrity of the brand and editorial voice, UCI will have oversight of Onion Inc. to leverage Univision Digital’s distribution, resources and media expertise to expand the exposure of the brand. In particular, Univision Digital will work with Onion Inc.’s brands to explore new content opportunities, including short- and long-form formats for each Onion brand across digital and linear mediums.

“Comedy is playing an expanding role in our culture as a vehicle for audiences to explore, debate, and understand the important ideas of our time,” said Isaac Lee, Chief News and Digital Officer of Univision and CEO of Fusion. “It has also proven to be an incredibly engaging format for millennial audiences, and is expected to play a key part in the 2016 presidential election process via our robust content offerings in Spanish and English. The Onion has been, and continues to be, a leading force of this phenomenon of intellectual, social, cultural and satirical commentary online. As we did with the acquisition of The Root in 2015, with Onion Inc. we are expanding our role as a go-to source for digitally-connected, diverse audiences. Including Onion Inc. as part of our portfolio is a great fit for and a significant step forward in our digital strategy as we continue to expand the ways we entertain and inform millennial and multicultural audiences.”

“Onion Inc. has remained successful by putting editorial first. We’re excited to partner with Univision, a company that understands and appreciates that foundation, and that can provide additional resources, expertise, and opportunity for our talented staff,” said Mike McAvoy, president and chief executive officer at Onion Inc.

In a memo to staff obtained by NPR, McAvoy told his Chicago-based staff that Fusion would play a key role in the site’s future.

McAvoy wrote: “So what does this mean for us as a company? Good things. Univision is excited to help Onion Inc. grow, and to provide the resources to both support our long-standing mission and fund new initiatives. They’ll help us keep the foundation strong and to build great new things on top of it. As an independent media company, we’ve always been forced to run a tight financial ship, which has made us smart and lean, but not always ready to invest in the great new ideas that we come up with.”

And, oh, by the way, it’s La Cebolla. That’s how you say The Onion in Spanish.

Sean L. McCarthy

Editor and publisher since 2007, when he was named New York's Funniest Reporter. Former newspaper reporter at the New York Daily News, Boston Herald and smaller dailies and community papers across America. Loves comedy so much he founded this site.

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